Today the United States Embassy joins Portugal and Portuguese people around the world in mourning the death of a great statesman, former Prime Minister and President, Mário Soares.
Mário Soares was a remarkable individual who relentlessly put his country first and fought for the cause of democracy and human rights.
History books tell us how, armed only with a law degree and his rock-solid commitment to freedom, he became a leader among those opposing the authoritarian regime of António Salazar and was exiled for his efforts. As soon as he was able to return to Portugal, following the Carnation Revolution, he worked tirelessly to prevent Portugal from falling into the Soviet sphere and totalitarian rule.
He spent countless hours in the building that is now my home, collaborating with then U.S. Ambassador Frank Carlucci to advance the cause of democracy and human rights in Portugal. The work these two great men did changed the course of history and set the stage for modern U.S.-Portugal relations. The relationship they founded continues to grow stronger, and the bonds between our two great nations continue to deepen.
I was privileged to have gotten to know Mário Soares during my time here in Portugal. He would invite me over to talk about policy and politics, and he always let me know when he thought the U.S. could do better. He was a passionate advocate for human rights and democracy and I will forever treasure our conversations.
My deepest condolences go to the Soares’ family, his friends, allies and even his opponents, all of whom will feel the loss of this great patriot and leader.